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New Market Research and Development in Africa

HRF's agribusiness development collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa continues as pilot cultivation projects proceed in different parts of the country. In April, HRF president Rob McCaleb traveled to South Africa, where he was joined by Dr. James Simon, Professor of Horticulture at Purdue University. Along with representatives from ARC and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), McCaleb and Simon traveled throughout South Africa to assess progress at participating farms and research centers. Test crops under cultivation include hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), buchu (Barosma betulina), honey bush (Cyclopia intermedia), and St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). McCaleb provided instruction on proper harvest, drying, and post-harvest processing of the hibiscus calyces, which are widely used as a tea ingredient. They also discussed ways to maximize hypericin and hyperforin content in the pilot St. John's wort crop as well as wildcrafted St. John's wort.

Next McCaleb and Simon traveled to Madagascar, where exploration of a number of possible botanical ventures are underway. HRF and USAID drafted a proposal and budget which would expand HRF's botanical agribusiness project to include this island nation. The focus of the proposed agreement is to promote rural business development.

In addition, HRF has submitted a three-year proposal to develop a natural products business network between the United States and African countries. The objective of this project would be to stimulate American investment in natural product exports from Africa, in recognition of the US market demand for quality natural products. The project, which would span several African nations and involve partnership with already established African grower federations, has the potential to position the natural products market as an engine of economic growth to African farmers. - Margaret Blank, HRF

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